A tiny bathroom for a tiny house

by andrewodom on November 3, 2011 · 14 comments


When living in a space that rarely exceeds 300 sq. ft. it is essential to first distinguish for yourself what is an absolute necessity and what is pure luxury. For most Americans this line seems to blur in the area of the powder room.

According to the Washingtonian, “You could fit an entire bathroom from a 1950s house into one of today’s shower stalls.”

And that was in 2003. Since then houses have continued to grow and shows such as Bathroom Renovations, Property Brothers, and Renovation Realities have only helped skew our idea of the “master bath.”

My granny’s Cape Cod boasted a bathroom that was 5’2″ by 6″10′. There was a single basin sink, a commode, and a shower/bath combo. The floor was plain ceramic tile (with pink accents, nonetheless), and the walls were adorned with towel racks and a few pieces of “art.” Today is quite a different story though. It’s not uncommon to see a bathroom in a home today that is 12′ by 15′ (or larger) with his and her vanities, a shower stall, a tub, a separate commode stall, and even a television. In a tiny house this is simply impossible. In fact, for those who are new to the world of tiny house trailers, a home cannot exceed 8 ft. in width, by law, and is typically between 16′ and 20′ in length. We are an exception with our 30′ long trailer.

Our current abode – the BUNGALOW – is a tiny house in itself coming in at about 220 sq. ft. with a bathroom that measures right at 4’8″ by 6’2″, respectively. And truth be told, it is perhaps my favorite area of the house. Our tiny bathroom is a room that is used. It is not a sitting room nor a room we entertain in. We likely won’t invite guests in with us and rarely do we make it a stop on the “grand tour.” It features a commode (tied in to our septic system), a shower stall (the shower pan is a recycled RV/motorhome shower pan and the walls are corrugated metal screwed into plywood walls), 2 towel racks, and 4 hooks. It is also features 3 shelves and perhaps the most original use of plumbing pipe I have seen (we bent threaded metal pipe for the curtain rod and fastened it to the wall using plumbing flanges for a totally industrial look). We use our kitchen sink as our bathroom sink as well being sure to rinse the sink after we brush our teeth, etc. It is not everyones ideal, I imagine, but it seems odd to have two sinks in one very small house. Our hot water heater is situated below our kitchenette sink and gives us a generous 6 minute hot shower.

Why point all this out though?

Living in a tiny house does not have to mean living like a neanderthal. It does not mean living without. It simply means resetting your mind to understand what you actually need to live comfortably. This is obviously a personal decision. We don’t have a bathtub and neither do we want one. This may not be the case for others. We have 2 walls of corrugated metal and 2 walls of feux wood paneling. Not all that trendy but very functional. Our commode is low flow and therefore doesn’t have an ultra-strong flush capacity. It does allow us to have a diaper sprayer though (we cloth diaper, if you are wondering) and that is so very cool to us. You bathroom in your tiny house has to fit you and your needs.

You may remember not too long ago I outlined the minimalist medicine cabinet. This helped us tremendously to create a comfortable bathroom space. What is your bathroom like? Do you have a large master bath or a quaint powder room? Do you wish it were something else? If so, what? How would you change your lav?  And for the full size pics of our bathroom, visit our Flickr page.

  • http://www.120squarefeet.blogspot.com Laura M. LaVoie

    This is a very timely post.  We are nearly done with the rest of our tiny house and the bathroom is one of the last projects.  I don’t happen to have the dimentions of the bathroom on hand, but considering the whole house is 120 square feet you can be sure the bathroom is pretty tiny.  We have already installed a small shower stall, but there is no plumbing yet.  We will also be building a composting toilet (Humanure Handbook style).  And those will be the only two things in the bathroom.  We will be putting in a small medicine cabinet to store typical things like toothpaste and medications. The truth is, I’m very low maintainance when it come to getting ready.  We will also be using our kitchen sink for our bathroom sink needs as well. 

    While we will eventually plumb the house, for now we are carting in water or using spring water. We plan to by a berkey water filter which we will use on our kitchen counter for all drinking and cooking water. And we plan to use our newly built shower (http://120squarefeet.blogspot.com/2011/10/lets-build-shower.html) in the house until such time as we have the rain catchment system in place. Heck, we may still use it even after we get that system set up. 

    Since the bathroom is the last big project in the tiny house, I can’t wait until it is finished. 

    • anotherkindofdrew

      I totally understand. When we were living in Georgia and posting on anotherkindofdrew.com/blog we outlined our solar shower project - http://anotherkindofdrew.com/blog/2010/06/24/the-solar-heated-outdoor-shower-the-end/ – which ended up being a primary shower for us for about 5 months. It was outstanding and used only well water and solar heat. 

      Good luck on y’alls bathroom!

  • http://www.simplystephen.ca/ simplystephen

    Andrew,

    I recently bought a small RV (to permanently move into next spring, to be able to explore “what’s going on eco” in the world). It has two sinks, the purpose of which I too don’t understand!

    You struck a chord with me with the quote “resetting your mind to understand what you actually need to live comfortably”. That couldn’t have been said better and in the future, I would love to write an article about it if you’ll let me steal the topic.

    It’s amazing what resetting your mind will do…opens up whole new opportunities in life.

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Thank you so much Stephen. You are welcome to steal the topic. You can even take my line. This site is an uncopyright sight. I say nothing that I don’t mind folks outright taking. I am excited for your RV. What kind did you get? I think you probably know of my wife and I’s secret desire to live in a Minnie Winnie.

      • http://www.simplystephen.ca/ simplystephen

        Well…I may steal it sooner than later. My stuff is open copyright too. Living on the road, opens up so many doors. It calls many people and yet they are still afraid to take the leap. It takes them outside of their comfort zone.

        I looked at the Winnie Lesharo but they have mixed reviews because of the Renault engine.

        I  had to purchase on budget so mine is a 1978 Dodge Sportsman (propane converted)…just the basics, shower, small kitchen, extra sink, toilet, 2 sleeping areas, fridge and no frills driving (time will be the teacher). But it has low mileage and is in great shape…I like an adventure so whatever happens will be part of the journey.

        • anotherkindofdrew

          We wouldn’t buy new for a number of reasons. I am thinking of a Winnebago Brave with a few solar panels (mainly for interior lights, electrical outlets, etc) and a refurb on the inside.

          What is your site again?

          • http://www.simplystephen.ca/ simplystephen

            The older and smaller Brave models are very similar to mine. I keeping her no frills for now but solar is a relatively inexpensive option to explore. I fortunately don’t power much, just my laptop, fridge and the lighting is all LED.

            My main “green” site is http://www.simplystephen.ca – I will probably post pictures and my plans in the spring when I get ready for the first leg of my adventure – back to the Yukon.

          • anotherkindofdrew

            Did you add the LEDs? What did that entail? We are going with LED bulbs for our tiny house. Perhaps that is what you are running in the RV? We are looking at a solar “kit” from Harbor Freight with some additional parts from random suppliers. 

          • http://www.simplystephen.ca/ simplystephen

            One of the solar kits I looked at was similar (if not the same one) you mention at Harbor Freight. I’m not sure if 45W will be enough for laptop and Internet (if I get mobile access).

            Unfortunately, or fortunately for me, the LED was already installed. He did all the external lights too, including indicator and fog running lights. About $300 worth of lights and accessories. If you have a surplus store near you, the parts may be available for a DIY. I’m not great at electrical stuff but would venture to do the lighting and diodes. I’ll probably get a rechargable lantern for localized reading and save the lights most of the time…also I have a head attachment light to use while walking or biking as a spare. Just make sure you have a charge controller in place to maintain your battery and I think you will want deep cycle, such as marine batteries.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=728914992 April Blankenship

    We’re just now building out lav, 3 years after we started the construction of our tiny house. It’s going to contain a 3′x3′ shower and a sawdust toilet. The measurements are about 6′x6′. Not sure how the shower will work until we get tied into a water line with water pressure, that will have to wait until next year. But we’re hoping to have the toilet ready to go before winter… Bought a door at a salvaged building materials place and found a neat piece of copper for a shower rod, we have an old medicine cabinet and some salvaged mirrors for the walls, a nice 4′x6′ window on the north side. We found bamboo flooring at Costco to be pretty reasonable so I think we’ll go with that when we get to that point. I like your corrugated tin on the shower walls, that’s been something we’ve talked about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Treva-Hedgepeth-Brigman/1295622151 Treva Hedgepeth Brigman

    You always give me food for thought.

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Thank you ma’am. I wish I could get a developer interested in a tiny community that had a suitable spot, a good pull with the county, and a vision not for getting rich but for enhancing life.

  • Kai Schwarz

    We are using these low flow toilets from Caroma, with integral sink in our small container houses (the smallest one is 160sqft.). The whole bathroom is also the shower as seen in Europe quite frequently and on many boats.  http://www.caromausa.com/products/index/cu_products39.php

  • http://www.mactonweb.com Web design London

     I’ll probably get a rechargable lantern for localized reading and save the lights most of the time…also I have a head attachment light to use while walking or biking as a spare. Just make sure you have a charge controller in place to maintain your battery and I think you will want deep cycle, such as marine batteries.

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